Winter Break has been a great time for rejuvenation. I realize I’ve been silent for a while, but I don’t think I recognized that before the break. I’ve been so involved in so many projects that feel relevant and valuable both at work and at home. So it wasn’t until we had a break that I realized I haven’t been sharing what I’ve learned or done.
I’m as excited as ever about microcredentials, both for educators and for students. Educator microcredentials have been up and running in Utah for several years now. You can learn more at USBE MIDAS. Student microcredentials are in pioneering territory, and I’m happy to be involved in the pioneering process! Never considered student microcredentials? This article from Harvard Graduate School of Education gives a great overview of the vision and potential for students using microcredentials in personalized, competency-based learning: Badges Instead of Grades | Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Today’s post isn’t really about microcredentials, though. It’s about the creative power of taking a break, trying new challenges, looking at things through a different lens, and finding joy in the process.
In my post from June 18, 2022, “It’s Not About the Sewing,” I wrote about a conference at which I had been able to go through the creative process of creating a dress for a half-scale dress form. That process was so rewarding, I decided I wanted to offer myself similar opportunities at home. I looked into buying a half-scale dress form (there are multiple options available), but ultimately, I decided it would be more fun to make my own, using a pattern from GrowYourOwnClothes, available on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/478702305/stuffed-fabric-half-scale-dress-form.
I created the dress form exactly as described by the pattern, but I modified the method for creating a stand, which took some creative engineering on the inside, and I’m happy with the result. I’ve used both draping and flat-pattern methods to design for the half-scale form, and I recommend the half-scale slopers also available from GrowYourOwnClothes.
I made two of the dress forms (one for design and one for display) near the end of October, and I’ve been creating seasonal outfits for the form to wear. One form stays at home where I can use it for draping and fitting. The other sits on my desk at work, where I can show off my creations. I know that sounds vain, and it probably is.
At the same time, the engineering, problem-solving, and artistry that go into these types of creative projects are a matter of wellness for me. I honestly believe that creativity has a healing power. Having the finished products where I can see them makes me joyful and reminds me that I can face creative challenges head-on. That’s a support I can use at work.
During the holiday break, I pushed myself to try some complex techniques with limited resources. So far, I haven’t purchased anything for my outfits. I’m only using scraps and items I already have in my stash. That’s one of my favorite things about the January outfit.
The dress is made from the leftovers of a pair of pants I had cut out for work. The blue fabric for the coat is what was left from the hem of a ball gown I cut off to get the right length for my daughter when she attended Winter Ball in 2021. I cut the individual coat pieces a bit large so that I could quilt them, and then I lined and trimmed the coat with fake fur and trim someone had donated to me. Favorite details? This coat has a separating zipper and functional, in-seam pockets.
This was obviously a bit of a time-consuming project. I know it seems extravagant to blind-hem a dress that will never be worn by a human. I know it seems inefficient to hand-stitch along the coat trim, where the zipper foot would not go in tight enough. Yet these are the types of details I love.
It’s ok to put quality effort into projects that bring joy.
I hope that in 2023 you will allow yourself to feel the healing power of creativity. I also hope you will offer yourself the joy that comes from completing challenging projects. Happy New Year to you!